NORWALK, CT - According to the State Department of Education, more than 60% of the students entering kindergarten in Connecticut are not ready for school.
This troubling statistic highlights a critical need for more high-quality, early childhood educational experiences and is the reason why four prominent area organizations are leveraging their resources to close the literacy achievement gap by better preparing young children for school.
Stepping Stones Museum for Children, Norwalk Community College, Norwalk Housing Authority and Literacy How, Inc. joined forces in March 2011 to launch the Early Learning and Literacy Initiative (ELLI), a public-private, community partnership whose cornerstone will be pre-kindergarten lab schools for children ages 5 and younger.
The ELLI Lab School pilot was launched at Stepping Stones Museum for Children in December 2012. It offers children, 3—5 years-old, engaging play-based experiences in a sensory- and language-rich environment that focus on building the skills, knowledge and attitudes that are developmental precursors to reading and writing.
The Lab School program highlights essential experiences through content-rich environments with opportunities for sustained and in-depth learning; a daily flow of activities that build language and verbal reasoning skills and conceptual knowledge; and abundant outdoor time. The school’s teachers, environments and practices support children to be curious, capable, resourceful, competent and imaginative. The Lab School will serve as a training and professional development site for teachers, parents and caregivers, with opportunities for conducting educational research-to-practice studies.
ELLI’s curriculum strategy includes best practices from curricula used at Stepping Stones and Norwalk Community College, supplemented with practices from research-based frameworks. There is a ratio of one teacher to six children to ensure that each child enrolled is supported to achieve the ELLI Lab School goal – to lay a solid foundation for reading and, consequently, for success in school and life.
The child and his or her family are at the core of the ELLI Lab School at Stepping Stones. Throughout the year, parents and caregivers are supported to actively participate in building the language and literacy skills so essential to their child’s success.
The ELLI Lab School at Stepping Stones is accepting students. The school will feature a rolling enrollment and half- or full-day programs with extended hours available. Children must be able to use the restroom independently. Financial assistance is available.
Parents interested in having their child participate in the ELLI Lab School at Stepping Stones or those looking for more information can contact the ELLI coordinator at 203 899 0606, ext. 247, or via email at email@example.com. Parents can also visit www.steppingstonesmuseum.org/ELLI to fill out a registration form online. Completion of the form does not guarantee placement for the class.